Portis's Numbers Continue To Add Up

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 25, 2005

Earlier this season, when the Washington Redskins weren't thriving on the field and Clinton Portis was frustrated over what he perceived to be an insufficient role in the offense, there was some question as to whether Portis was the right type of running back for Coach Joe Gibbs's system.

There isn't much question about Portis any more, or much complaint from him about his role. Portis rushed 27 times for 108 yards and a touchdown yesterday, his fourth straight 100-yard game and his eighth this season, surpassing the team record of seven set by Rob Goode in 1951. With 1,404 yards this season, Portis needs 29 in Sunday's season finale at Philadelphia to surpass Stephen Davis's team record, set in 2001.

Another 100-yard game by Portis would tie Goode's team record of five straight games with triple-digit rushing yards, also set in 1951.

Portis's fortunes have changed with the Redskins' commitment to power football. After being sporadic in the rushing department, the Redskins' running backs carried 40 times yesterday. The result is a team playing the kind of December football that is Gibbs's trademark.

"Running the ball is what Joe Gibbs is all about," said Joe Bugel, the Redskins' assistant head coach-offense. "He wants balance, too, but he wants balance out of running the football. That means you have a lead."

That the Redskins ran so often was a victory for 43-year-old Ray Brown, who replaced Randy Thomas at right guard. Thomas was put on injured reserve last week after breaking his right fibula last Sunday against the Cowboys.

"I'm guessing as of right now, but he had a real solid performance," Gibbs said. "The thing about Ray is that he's not going to panic. He's been around forever. He has a great story, a guy who's able to play like that and start on our football team."

Another Knee Injury

Like quarterback Mark Brunell, third-down linebacker Chris Clemons strained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Clemons was injured on special teams coverage with four seconds left in the half following a Giants touchdown. He did not return to the sideline for the rest of the game and was sporting a brace after the game. "Someone landed on me," Clemons said.

Shawn Springs left the game with 10 minutes 19 seconds left in the third quarter after tackling Tiki Barber. Springs brought down Barber after an 11-yard pass and was knocked momentarily unconscious when safety Ryan Clark hit him in the head. He returned a few plays later.

Defensive end Renaldo Wynn received treatment after the game for a twisted right ankle.

Concern About Blackburn

Giants rookie linebacker Chase Blackburn was carted off the field after tackling Chris Cooley in the third quarter. Blackburn was on the ground for several minutes before he was carted off. His injury was reported as a neck strain, and Giants Coach Tom Coughlin did not know Blackburn's prognosis. But Coughlin said, "He was squeezing my hand and moving his legs around."

Cool Production

Cooley's 68 catches on the season are a record for an H-back, the Redskins' wide-receiver-tight end-fullback hybrid.

"We've had some good ones," offensive coordinator Don Breaux said. "But he might be the best one we've had." . . .

Entering yesterday, Giants defensive ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiori had combined for 24 sacks this season. Strahan had seven tackles yesterday, but neither had a sack.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company